A large pod of pink dolphins spurred on swimmer Simon Holiday to set a new Hong Kong to Macau record - completing the challenge yesterday in 10 hours, 20 minutes and 30 seconds.
Holliday completed his historic 35 kilometre swim across the Pearl River Delta, from Peaked Hill (Kai Yet Kok) to Hac Sa Beach in Macau, breaking the 2005 record previously held by Beijing marathon swimmer Zhang Jian of 10 hours and 30 minutes.
Ocean paddler Shu Pu, who guided Holliday, also became the first person to paddle solo across the delta.
Holliday raised his arms in triumph as he completed his swim in and was immediately congratulated by well-wishers, including his parents on his Facebook page.
Holliday said he had been swimming with a group of pink dolphins as he closed in on the record.
“There were tough moments – lots of big tankers in the start, and lots of time to contemplate what I was doing, but the jellyfish didn’t appear, and instead, the dolphins did, for over an hour.
"It was one of the most amazing moments of my life to see them around us for so long, even though I had to keep my head down and kept going.
“My team have been amazing – Shu Pu has worked tirelessly to make this swim happen and was with me all the way on her outrigger canoe.
“And to the rest of the crew – thanks so much for your tireless support. This wouldn’t have happened without you.”
Doug Woodring of the Ocean Recovery Alliance said: “I’ve never seen so many dolphins – at one point there was around 30 of them. Today was not just a great day for the ocean, but a great day for Hong Kong open-water swimming."
Asked the first thing he was going to do after emerging from the water, Holliday replied: “I am going to have a pint of beer, in a glass.”
The “Clean Cross Swim” aims to raise awareness of plastics in the ocean. So far more than $218,000 has been raised to support the ‘Grate Art’ project, bringing eight local and Chinese artists to create plaques to remind people not to dump into drains on the street which drain directly into the ocean.